Cadaver Exhibits Are Part Science, Part Sideshow
Neda Ulaby, National Public Radio (August 10, 2006)
Death Reference Desk technical guru Meg posted an article on the newest planned exhibition by German anatomist and showman, Gunther von Hagens. This would be Gunther von Hagens of Body Worlds fame. The article discusses von Hagens’ plans to exhibit dead bodies posed in sexual positions.
There is a fascinating backstory to this corpse-a-palooza sex show and it all begins in 2006….
In August of that year, NPR featured a report by Neda Ulaby on Gunther von Hagens. You can listen to that interview by clicking on the link at the top of the page. On the whole, the report is about the Body Worlds phenomena sweeping America during that summer.
Then, as if by MAGIC, intrepid reporter Neda Ulaby drops this dead body bomb:
Recently, [Gunther von Hagens] sent a questionnaire to 6,500 people who he says have agreed to donate their bodies to him after death. They were asked a number of provocative questions. For example, would they consent to their body parts being mixed with an animal’s, to create a mythological creature? Would they agree to be “transformed into an act of love with a woman or a man?” Von Hagens says that on the sex question, the majority of men liked the idea, while the women did not.
Talk about burying the lead…or burying something. Wowza: that double entendre works on a number of levels.
But it is all true. Gunther von Hagens plans on fusing dead animals and dead humans together (because, of course, humans aren’t animals….) to create Mythological Creatures. Or, as one former student once proclaimed: “You mean like centaurs and stuff.” Yes yes. I do mean centaurs and stuff.
But the magic doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Von Hagens was clearly making plans to pose dead bodies in sexual positions by at least 2006 (if not earlier). Well, actually, von Hagens says “…transformed into an act of love…” and when you listen to the NPR report, it’s really creepy sounding.
Thus began my own personal obsession with tracking every new exhibition by von Hagens to see when he would finally, finally show dead bodies having sex. It seemed fairly obvious that von Hagens would create this exhibition since I GUARANTEE that it (meaning dead bodies doing it) will make MORE MONEY than any of von Hagens other shows. And that is saying a lot, since Body Worlds recorded its 28th million visitor in July 2009. The mythological creatures will most certainly appear at some point but only after a small mint is made with the corpse sex.
And so it has all come to pass. On May 7, 2009, Gunther von Hagens opened a new Body Worlds exhibition in Berlin, Germany (the Berlin link is gone so I am using a Zurich, Switzerland link). In one section of the exhibition, entitled Cycle of Life, von Hagens placed two different pairs of bodies having sex on display. In a statement released by von Hagens, he explains that the exhibit “offers a deep understanding of the human body, the biology of reproduction, and the nature of sexuality.”
He is also making it clear on the Body Worlds website that he wants to bring the copulating corpses to London. I know. The Brits will beat down the door to see it. Here is the full “look out London, here we come” pitch by von Hagens.
At least at the end he wished everyone best wishes.
Sadly, the London Body Worlds exhibition closed at the end of August. The last time I checked, von Hagens never did move the dead bodies having sex to the O2 bubble. But rest assured, I will keep track of this situation for one and all.
And what would this post on dead bodies having sex be WITHOUT at least a short video clip from YouTube. This gem is entitled Copulating Corpses from from Von Hagen[s] Exhibition and it features an awesome song by the band Evanesence.
One reply on “Dead Bodies Having Sex: the Backstory”
I enjoy that this article managed to score both the “corpse abuse” and “humor” tags. That’s a feat.